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October 22, 2016

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Vince Neil sets $1M target on ‘Apprentice’; Elizabeth Blau pays $1.25M for Peli Peli


Frederick M. Brown / CNBC

Las Vegas restaurateur Elizabeth Blau, center, guest stars on “Restaurant Startup” on CNBC.

Motley Crue at MGM Grand

Motley Crue at MGM Grand Garden Arena on Sunday, Dec. 27, 2015, in Las Vegas. Launch slideshow »

Elizabeth Blau on ‘Restaurant Startup’

Las Vegas restaurateur Elizabeth Blau guest stars on “Restaurant Startup” on CNBC. Launch slideshow »

Las Vegas will be well represented on NBC’s new season of “Celebrity Apprentice” that starts filming Monday for six weeks for fall airing. NBC today confirmed our Vegas Deluxe story Wednesday that Motley Crue icon and Las Vegas resident Vince Neil will be among the 16 contestants.

Also participating in Season 8 of the reality-TV competition will be familiar Las Vegas names: retired UFC fighter Chael Sonnen, Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi of “Jersey Shore” fame, Muhammad Ali’s daughter and retired champion boxer Laila Ali and Kyle Richards of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.”

Singer Boy George, NFL Hall of Fame running back Eric Dickerson, comedian Jon Lovitz and stylist Carson Kressley also are competing. Actor and ex-California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is host, replacing Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Ah-nuld will be joined in the board room by billionaire Warren Buffet, ex-Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer and supermodel Tyra Banks, who replaces Ivanka Trump, as advisers.

The show has raised more than $15 million for charities as celebrities take on business challenges and will be filmed in the tech-startup community Silicon Beach on the west side of Los Angeles. Vince is playing for late chef Kerry Simon’s Fight MSA and Keep Memory Alive causes at the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Symphony Park here.

Vince arrived in Los Angeles on Wednesday night with 12 suitcases of outfits requested by producers for possible filming scenarios. “I’ll be raising money for great Las Vegas causes, so I hope the entire valley-wide community will be supporting whatever it is we have to tackle,” he told me.

“I’ve set myself a record target of $1 million and have begun reaching out to my rock star and country star friends to support me once the challenges get underway.”

‘Restaurant Startup’

Four Las Vegas food industry investors have joined with restaurateur and hospitality queen Elizabeth Blau in a $1.25 million deal to bring South African fusion food concept Peli Peli here from Houston, then they plan to take it global.

Elizabeth appeared on Wednesday night’s CNBC reality-TV show “Restaurant Startup.” Elizabeth and host Tim Love received business pitches with financial plans from Peli Peli chef Paul Friedman and his wife against two female chefs with their slider concept at Full Circle Tavern in Dallas.

At the screening at her Andiron Steak + Sea in Downtown Summerlin, Elizabeth told me: “We selected Peli Peli as the winner of the two business pitches. They then had to transform an empty, raw-space restaurant into a fully working pop-up bistro with 100 customers arriving for dinner.

“They were given $7,500 and 36 hours for the makeover. We watched them cook, watched them serve and checked their restaurant design and had a food tasting for their food quality.

“Tim offered them a $1 million deal. I topped it and went for $1.25 million, the largest deal ever made on the series. Now that the show has broadcast, we can finalize the deal.

“It’s a little complicated because they already have two existing businesses and want to use $300,000 for a quick-service version. We’re sorting out the details and hope to wrap it up very shortly.”

Elizabeth, who has four restaurants here including Buddy V’s at Palazzo, told me that her TV appearance brought congratulatory messages from Buddy Valastro, fellow trustees at Culinary Institute of America and even her high school in Connecticut.

“It hasn’t quite hit me yet that I’m on reality television,” she laughed. “Everything it looked like I knew came from watching you every week on ‘Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous’. ”

Elizabeth filmed three episodes of the series last May at NBC in Burbank over 15 days. The next two episodes will air next Wednesday and again a week later.

Peli Peli specializes in a South African fusion cooking style with flavors of Dutch, Caribbean and British cuisines for curried chicken, meat pies, small chile peppers, karoo lamb chops, espetadas and Boerewors sausage.

“Peli Peli means bird’s-eye chili, a spice discovered by the Portuguese in the 15th century on the plains of Southern Africa,” said Elizabeth. “The marinades, seasonings and spices are infused with such fruits as guava, passion fruit, papaya and mango.

“The food was fantastic. We’ll bring it to Las Vegas, then take it around the world.”

Robin Leach of “Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous” fame has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past 15 years giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

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